Advice DFS & PSTs


I looking for a second, third, forth, etc... opinions on how to best going about Personal Folders and DFS.

All users have the Personal Folders in their home folders.
All home folders are in DFS and are mapped locally via a logon script.

Most users PSTs grow to 2GB+ per half year (Due to high volume and large attachements).
Users being users, don't pay attention to the size of their PST.
Repeated emails reminding users how and why PST sizes need to be monitored and maintained, just get translated to: Blah blah blah blah.

I read somewhere the PSTs are not supported via a mapped share.
We have been doing this for years without too much problems.

Enter DFS and DFS replication. Still as yet not much problems......

Is this a common setup or am I sitting on an accident just waiting to happen?
This morning I changed all DFS replications to replicate all day at 32MB.

Here's a quick break down of our data:
               Folders    Files        Size (GB)
Profiles      9765      67437      6.85
Data        32065      64757      19.21
Homes      306              1874      47.3
Total      42136      134068      73.36

We have 16 users using Win XP Pro SP 3, 14 Office 2003 users & 2 Office 2007 users.
1 Vista Bussiness with Office 2007.
2 Windows 2003 R2 servers.

We have no excahnge server. All users are either using POP3 or IMAP.

As far as I can tell the only really busy network moments are when users logon or off and when everyone picks up their email.

So... what do you guys think?

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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Microsoft Small Business Server is a relatively inexpensive solution that will provide you with Exchange at a low cost.

PST files are not supported on network shares and by extension are not supported on DFS shares.  Years ago, I worked in a company that put PST files on the network (back before Outlook 2000), but given the newer file formats and proliferation of Exchange in general, I would say using PST files on the network and especially in DFS shares IS an accident waiting to happen.
Abhay PujariCommented:
Above post is true. But the question is waht do you want to do? Do you want to keep PST file size moderate?
PberConnect With a Mentor Solutions ArchitectCommented:
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DennisPostAuthor Commented:
Thanks for commenting.

Our mother company will not allow us to have our own Exchange server, even though we want to. All email traffic goes through them.

I asked them if it was possible to have our own Exchange server, and configure it to pick up the emails from their server. No answer. I don't even know if this is possible. If so, no MX records would have to be changed.

How would you recommend I setup the PSTs?

JaredJ1Connect With a Mentor Commented:
It will work as you already know. The good thing is you are using Windows 2003 R2 which uses a completely different replication engine compared to original 2003 Server. This edition is much more stable and DFS works well. The trouble is, DFS doesn't do anything to rectify the issue of PST files growing larger than 2Gb. Leew's suggestion of Microsoft SBS is good. For the number of users that you have, you need a good email system that can be managed centrally rather than users creating their own PST files and pop3 settings. Migrate to Exchange as a part of MS Small Business Server and you'll have a much easier system to backup, maintain and expand should the need arise. You'll also not run into situations where PST files become corrupted.
Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
If you have a parent company SBS is not appropriate for you.  The parent company should allow you to use Outlook via RPC over HTTP.  Otherwise, you need to be diligent in your backups and don't be shocked if you end up with corrupt PSTs once in a while.  The parent company needs to get with the program and if they don't they need to accept they are forcing themselves to pay higher IT costs in terms of added time requirements for administrators and/or greater risk of data loss.
DennisPostAuthor Commented:
I would like the PSTs to get no larger than say 1-1.5GB.
But more importantly I want to avert a future data loss disater, and frequent minor data loss that need restoring.

Seems that Microsoft says no. Yet I have been doing this for a while now with little trouble.
Only trouble was when I promoted one of the servers (Where the DFS Namespaces was configured) to DC. Only users that logged off during the promotion to DC were affected. I was easily able to copy the right files over the top of the other files in the replication pair.
Abhay PujariCommented:
For keeping moderate size of PST, you can implement quota. Also as said earlier, you may encounter a data loss in future as this type of configuration is not recommended. You can go for SBS as it a a good solution for small business and less users.
Apart from my post, leew rightly explained it to you.
PberConnect With a Mentor Solutions ArchitectCommented:
I know that's M$ stance and we've been using PSTs on network shares (not DFS) for ever without any issues.  We have Exchange, but users are crafty and when they were imposed limits on mailbox storage, they quickly turned to PSTs for archiving or just getting their mailbox below limit so they can send again.  We are now in the process of injesting all PSTs into a email archiving product and will be disabling the ability to use PSTs.
So keep that in mind if you do get an Exchange server, disable the PST abilities because the users will use them if they can.
DennisPostAuthor Commented:
After reading this question again this morning, I noticed it is split in 2 parts.
DFS with PSTs and PST size problems.

I have opened a new question to about PST sizes. Can also award more points. ^^

I'll leave this question open for the a week or so, just in case someone else has something to share.

Thanks for all your comments and insights, very helpful. :-)
DennisPostAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys!!
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